9 Common Mistakes Hotels Make When Preparing for Weather Emergencies

By Kurt Meister Senior Vice President , Distinguished Programs | October 21, 2018

You didn't have to be in Houston or Florida to understand the colossal impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Those two weather-related disasters fueled the most expensive hurricane season ever in 2017, totaling $202.6 billion in damages in the United States alone.

And 2018 has been no less volatile, from devastating flash floods in Ellicott City, Maryland, and Central Pennsylvania, to raging wildfires in California. The stark reality: dangerous weather – tornadoes, ferocious straight-line winds, blizzards and even earthquakes – can strike at any moment.

In the event of adverse weather, communities rely upon hotels to provide shelter. In turn, hotel employees and guests rely upon hotel management to be prepared. When a hotel isn't ready, the results can be expensive, chaotic and even dangerous. And even the most well-prepared hotels can suffer flooding or storm damage that leads to temporary closure.

Let's review nine common mistakes (and fixes) that will help you stay well equipped for whatever Mother Nature may bring.

1. Not Having Enough Supplies

If a blizzard or hurricane strikes, you may shelter in place for days, and no hotel wants to run out of food and water. Ideally, you should have enough on hand to last for weeks. Your hotel also must have tight connections with people in the supply chain. In the event of any widespread weather disaster, you'll need to know not only how much food, water and other supplies you have on hand, but also which suppliers can access your facility, and which ones cannot. A quick tip: Also stock up on items like iodine that can help with water purification in a worst-case scenario.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.